From the size and scope of my headache on Wednesday morning, I am assuming Barack Obama won and gave a killer speech. I awoke in the guest bedroom covered in a thick sheet of sweat and shame. I was floored—completely destroyed in a fit of blurring, pounding, mind-dumbing pain that ached from my feet to my follicles. Consumption of aspirin and coffee was laughable. It would be like trying to take out an A-10 Thunderbolt with a rusty garden sprinkler. The world was a thumping mess with my equilibrium tilted and my stomach knotted from the heroic intake of cocktails from the night before. Short of a complete blood transfusion, I was going to be stuck stumbling through the day in a daze.
I decided that the best way to potentially dull the pain of Romney winning was to engage a bottle of Monopolowa gin to a fistfight. While waiting for friends and family to join us at the house to watch the results, I started sparring with the surprisingly smooth and volatile bottle of Austrian gin with a single can of tonic water and a handful of limes. I wish there was a time-lapse photograph of the bottle as it disappeared in increments of inches throughout the night.
My friends and family can use the footage for my intervention.
If I had just settled for gin and tonics, I might have survived. Unfortunately, I decided to down a cask of beer, take nips of Jameson and slam some sort of homemade apple cider that comes with a warning from both the distiller and God himself. My gut was some sort of witch’s brew that will be studied by scientist for decades in the future.
We gathered around the TV in the basement with cocktails, pizza and snacks. The mood was tense. Going into the night, there was a bit of gloom and doom with the mantra, “What if Romney wins?” I didn’t think Romney was going actually take the White House but nothing was written in stone. I dreaded the prospect that the ex-governor of Massachusetts would be the 45th president of the United States. Not because he would get us into a war with China or take away my uterus but because he just seemed creepy—and not just Mormon creepy.
As a white man who is teetering in both the middle-age and middle-class realms, one would think by Brylcreem alone that Mitt would be my man. He represented an era that favored natural-born, privileged, white males that put a well-polished wingtip on women, minorities and people who were a threat to the status quo. You know, the good ol’ days, back when the world made sense. He believes in personal responsibility (i.e., the government isn’t a safety net) and an open market that allows business to run roughshod over every conceivable hiccup to a strong bottom line. His message was a strong America came from a trickle down perception of the market and that people owe it to themselves to excel at any cost.
There are no limitations to an individual’s ambition and Romney wasn’t constrained by the popular restrictions most of us face every day. He has never had to make the embarrassing decision of what to put back while checking out at the grocery store or deciding what bill gets paid over the other. He is disconnected from the day-in challenges that everyone I know has to make every single day. His belief that government is merely the binding agent to a society that performs merely to link the states together in the language and intent of a Constitution written over 200 years ago is antiquated and myopic. Running the country as a business might have benefits in future generations but considering the steps Obama has made over the last four years, why derail the path he has set us on with a one-term governor?
The problem is that Romney could never answer the very simple question of why don’t we take a horse and buggy to work anymore? It’s because, Mitt, we invented the car.
We grow and adapt. We adjust and learn. We reach out to one another and stretch a hand across to old foes trying to make a better tomorrow for all. Romney failed to connect with those of us that have actual skin in the game and try to create an alternative vision of the future that was simply untrue. I’d rather have 100 small business owners who are fighting to keep their heads above water sitting in the White House than some clown who thinks that almost half of the population are looking for a hand out.
Before I entered an alcoholic coma on Tuesday, I came to the conclusion that I don’t know jackshit about politics. Every one of my predictions fell through. I thought Mark Crockett was going to down Ben McAdams for Salt Lake County mayor, I thought Romney was going to take Ohio and I thought the Democrats were going to take back the House of Representatives. Shows what I know.
What I did learn through the days following the election is that both parties spent a combined $6 BILLION on this campaign. That’s billion with a capital ‘B’. That’s three times what Titanic made and more money anyone not named Bill Gates would ever see in a thousand lifetimes. To give perspective on $6 billion, I would pay $15 to see $6 billion dollars in a warehouse simply to tell my grandkids, “Holy Toledo, it was a big warehouse.” What did this $6 billion dollars get the nation? With the exception of two more Democrats in the Senate and the exchange of 15 seats in the House, $6 billion dollars did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. The value of a plug nickel was the net difference in the obscene expenditure of money. There is going to have to be a day of reckoning where the shameful waste of money on campaigns is brought to a halt and those that want long term change to the nation take their million dollar donations and donate it to an orphanage.
Yet, I didn’t think about this on Wednesday. I was sweating and puking my eyeballs out trying to make why I woke up with my boxers around my neck and the dogs licking my feet. The only grounding moment when I peeled my face off of the greasy guest bedroom pillow was I should probably get up and try to make something with this day. I’ve learned through the years with Erin that she is the kindred spirit of my grandmother, Hazel. Grandma didn’t mind if you had more than a couple of mugs of whiskey but she sure-as-shit wouldn’t let you lounge around the house all day in a stupor the next morning. Drink like a man but don’t wake up like a baby. If I decided to polish off a keg of mojitos while visiting her, she’d feed us a lumberjack breakfast that Paul Bunyan would waddle away from and then send me out into the world to do her bidding.
For me, it was a full day of house projects and dry heaves into the garbage can. I made it to work that night and gave the zombies on The Walking Dead a run for their money. Poking my liver with a gin pencil is not a good idea and I’ve reconsidered the fact that I am not a young man and as much as I love Obama, I probably don’t need to destroy a vital organ to celebrate his victory. If my grandmother had seen me she would have been cross. She would eventually calm down but much like Erin, she certainly wouldn’t have forgotten about it.
In the end, the only thing I really learned about the 2012 election was this very simple fact: thanks to IKEA, removing a lampshade to wear as a hat has become a lot more difficult. You’ll need a hex key to get the party started. I might have drank my weight in hooch but I can’t think of a better night to have done it. Getting drunk celebrating Obama’s defeat of Romney was sweeter than any pain I took from the hangover I had on Wednesday. Four more years of Obama reminds me of the hope I had for him when I voted for him in 2008. Four years of Romney would have been a flat out bummer.
Ben Raskin bartends at Keys On Main Wednesday through Saturday. Follow him on Twitter @BennyRaskin. He once had a podcast, SLC PubCast. He got his four more years.